This Thing

  by Michael Tuberdyke

  Al stood speechless over the kitchen sink as the water ran down. He looked at the glass that he held in his hand and thought about breaking it.

  In the next room he could hear Sara settling down. Al wished he could take back what he said; then again, he could almost care less. He told himself this to feel better. He took a deep breath and turned off the faucet.

  He exhaled after stepping away from the sink. The room was quiet. Al put on a smile and went into their bedroom.

  “I didn’t tell you this, but earlier at the grocery store there was this dog in the shopping cart ahead of me. Every time the grocer put the bag in the cart the dog would jump up at the grocer.”

  Al laughed. Sara sat on the edge of their bed not saying anything. He made his way over to her. Sitting down he realized that he did not know what to say. He placed his hand on her knee.

  “Will you leave me alone? I don’t want to be near you.” Sara repositioned herself so that her back was against the pillows. She stared in the direction of Al, but did not look at him.

  “Listen,” Al began as he reached over to touch her toes. “I love you.”

  He did not say this to feel better. When she did not return the phrase he became worried. He said it again then stood up.

  “I’m going for a walk. I need some air.” He took a few steps away from her and when he realized his statement had absolutely no effect on her he turned around.

  “Will you tell me what’s wrong?”

  Sara kept her face looking down as she adjusted herself on their bed. “I just want to be left alone.”

  Al moved closer. He couldn’t understand why she took such an offensive to what he said earlier. He had said it before and she had found it funny. Then she would say something about him and he found the comedy in it all.

  His confusion only increased his agitation. Al was tired. He did not want to solve the puzzle. All of this made his actions animated. 

  “One minute we’re talking, laughing, having a normal conversation and then—” He clapped his hands together.

  “You’re a jerk, you know that?” Sara’s vagueness dissipated. She was now mad. She yelled at Al about the way he said things. He listened, but he hoped the neighbors did not hear. He tried to quiet her and then she stopped trying to explain her disposition.

  “Just go for a walk, I’ll be fine.”

  “I can’t leave you when you are like this,” He snapped without meaning too. The room to him now felt unfamiliar. He did not understand the person in front of him. His emotions were growing more out of balance. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

  Al left the room and took a seat at the kitchen table. He began talking to himself since he left their bedroom and underneath his breath he said a variety of prayers and curses hopping that something would either break or give.

  On the table sat what was left untouched from their dinner. A bowl of mixed vegetables, which were from the last bag in the freezer sat beside a plate of chicken and a bowl of white rice.

  Al’s mind was blank. He felt there was still more he needed to say. He stood up and headed back toward the bedroom before turning around to head to the sink.

  He turned on the faucet and let the water run until it was warm to the touch. He went over to the table and brought the dishes with the food over to the counter. He wrapped the chicken in foil and put the vegetables and rice in one Tupperware container.

  Al put the plate under the water and finished washing the glass he started on only moments ago. He washed the glass without thinking about anything else. After the glass he began to clean the plates. When he finished one plate Sara was beside him. He tried not to acknowledge her presence.

  Sara went over to the table and grabbed the silverware then placed them at the bottom of the sink.

  “I’ll dry the stuff.”

  “You don’t have too,” he said this without looking at her. “Just relax. It’s been a tough day.”

  Sara grabbed a hand towel from a drawer beside the sink. He watched her dry off one plate and thought about saying something. It wouldn’t make any difference. He could not change her anymore than she could change him.

  “I can see we have a lot leftover,” Her eyes were on him.

  “Yeah. I hope we don’t let it all go to waste.”

  “Take some to work tomorrow.”

  “Sure,” Al said, nodding his head. “I thought of that too.”

  After the dishes were done they put everything away. Sara made a comment about how much she wanted the week to be over and Al agreed. The two had plans to go away for the weekend and they could not wait to be alone together.

Michael Tuberdyke is the author of The Pharaohs, The River May Run and Inside Out: Stories. He lives in the Finger Lakes Region of New York and is working on his third novel. His books are available at the Central Library, and you can find his author page at Amazon, here.